Unilever - PeopleSoft Global Payroll - June 2000, May 2002


Unilever had 44 separate payrolls across the UK, all managed locally. The UK Finance Director had a number of drivers to centralize into a single application cost; key man dependency; inconsistency of service; lack of management information etc, and in 2000 he established a project to centralize onto a single platform.

IT Bites had previously worked with Unilever, and the FD appointed Steve as Project Manager.

Over the course of the next 2 years Steve embarked on a roller-coaster ride of achieving the objectives set using a brand new, state of the art solution - PeopleSoft Global Payroll. He successfully managed the project through to its successful conclusion in April 2002 with the first UK Payroll run.


  1. Selection of a solution based on detailed Unilever requirements.
  2. Deployment of an initial pilot to act as proof of concept.
  3. Full roll-out to incorporate all remaing UK payrolls.


By June 2001, we aimed to go live on a pilot sample of 1,000 employees. 7 months may seem like a long time to configure a 1,000 payee payroll, but we had to:

  • Install, learn, configure and customise the brand new PeopleSoft application
  • Establish an IT infrastructure to support the technology
  • Open a new Payroll Office and equip it
  • Staff the Payroll Office (from top to bottom)
  • Develop and execute a data migration strategy
  • Build strategic and legacy interfaces
  • Test everything, develop processes etc
  • Develop a model to roll-in the remaining 16,000 employees held on 43 payrolls

In fact, our target was ambitious and we actually went live in September 2001.


Although we were now 3 months behind the original schedule, there was considerable pressure from the business to still go live on the original target date - April 2002.

Our original model of rolling in remaining payrolls iteratively was clearly not feasible:

  1. we would have to bring in 2 or 3 sites each month with no provision for any contingency
  2. the overhead incurred in configuring, testing and signing off each phase of PeopleSoft development simply did not allow enough time
  3. managing business transition on a monthly basis would require a full-time dedicated team
  4. regression testing would be required every month and would have proved prohibitively expensive
  5. the operational (live) payroll would be risked each month
  6. ....... probably numerous other reasons as well!!!

We, therefore, completely re-planned for a 'big bang' implementation with a single phase of PeopleSoft development, a single business transition plan, a single testing strategy and only one risk of impacting operational payroll.

Despite some extremely hairy moments, and with a lot of dedicated, hard work from the team of about 25 people, combined with a lot of innovative thinking ("out of the box thinking" became our catch phrase), we managed to pull it off with a full UK Payroll run for the first time on 17th April 2002.


IT Bites successfully managed the project though to a successful conclusion. We continued to be associated with Unilever for another couple of years after that.